Cobras-Warriors evenly poised
Vernon Philander (Gallo Images)
Paarl - It's even stevens after two days of the Sunfoil Series match between the Cape Cobras and the Warriors at Boland Park. With all ten wickets in hand in their second innings, the Cobras have a narrow lead of twenty runs.
The Cobras got stuck into the Warriors batting line-up as early as the first ball of the second over of the day. Rory Kleinveldt swung one in through the gate to bowl Jon-Jon Smuts. Davey Jacobs did not last much longer before edging a Vernon Philander away-swinger to keeper Dane Vilas. That left the Warriors in some strife on 37 for three, still over 200 runs behind. Much of the arrears were cleared in a splendid partnership between the left-handed duo of Ashwell Prince and Colin Ingram.
The pair added 67 before lunch. There was an alarm soon after the resumption but Dane Piedt was off target with his throw with the wicket at his mercy following a misunderstanding. The partnership was, almost inevitably, broken by Alistair Gray’s occasional leg-spinners. He tempted Prince to run down the wicket at him, but the ball was hit straight to Andrew Puttick at deep mid-wicket. Prince took 206 minutes and faced 145 balls to score his 53, an indication of the difficulty in scoring quickly on this pitch.
Kelly Smuts joined Ingram and took the Warriors to tea without further loss at 198 for four.
Resuming after tea, Ingram looked to cash in during the seven overs before the new ball became due. However, he mistimed a cover drive in the second over and was caught by Gray in the covers for 80 (225 minutes, 168 balls, 10 fours).
Smuts and Athenkosi Dyili saw off the bowling until the new ball was taken promptly after 80 overs. As has often been the case with Philander, he seemed more lethal with the second new ball than the first. He first had Smuts pushing back a return catch, and then bowled Wayne Parnell around his legs with the next ball.
Not to be outdone, Kleinveldt despatched Dyili and Adrian Birch and four wickets had fallen in the space of eleven balls, with the Cobras still enjoying a lead of 43.
However, the home side could not apply the knock-out punch and the tail wagged merrily. Walters was dropped in the slips on five while Simon Harmer farmed the strike and played some powerful shots. A boundary from Walters put the Warriors into the lead, at which point the tenth wicket pair had added 57 in fourteen overs.
The home team’s blushes were spared as Louw knocked back the middle stump with the next delivery, restricting the lead to four runs.
This lead disappeared before a legitimate ball had been bowled, as a wretched opening delivery from Birch went for five wides. Gray picked off two boundaries at the other end as Walters strayed down leg, but after this the openers were content to see off the seven overs remaining.
So there is all to play for with two days remaining. The pitch has been playing slowly and the bounce is low, so run scoring will be difficult in the last two days. The scoring rate has seldom crossed the three runs barrier. The Warriors did manage to nose their way ahead in the bonus points race, shading out the Cobras by 7.32 to 7.24.